Star Trek Picard: Remembrance

"I haven't been living. I've been waiting to die."

By nature I love brevity: A lovely and intriguing premiere with gorgeous music, that hits all the right beats to make this a series I can't wait to watch more of.

Picard is old. Patrick Stewart is old. And that's okay.

I see fans everywhere talk about how Patrick Stewart doesn't age at all. It isn't true. Patrick Stewart is an old man, who just isn't capable of the things he was capable of back in the days of Nemesis, let alone TNG. And because Patrick Stewart is old, the character of Picard needed to age with him. This episode is about letting you know that this is not the action hero Picard of the TNG films. And it's about letting you know that it's alright to let that Picard go.

But for all that Picard has changed, for all that he's grown old, he is still at his core the same man. This is revealed most clearly in his interactions with Dahj (Isa Briones), a young woman who is experiencing a complete collapse of her world and is terrified by it. Picard is kind to Dahj, far more than I think most of us would be capable of. He's a celebrity, and a somewhat mysterious one at that. If I were in that position, I think I would be very wary of anyone who just showed up on my property. But Picard's response is simply to be kind, and to let his dog inform him if there's any kind of threat.

Of course, Dahj and Picard share a connection beyond the kindness he shows her. Dahj, it seems, is an android made of flesh and blood, and cloned from the remains of Commander Data. Data himself looms large over this episode, appearing to Picard in unsettling dream sequences and making his presence felt even from so long in the past.

As the mystery surrounding Dahj deepens, it leads Picard to the Daystrom Institute, to which Dahj was accepted as a fellow in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Consciousness. There he meets Dr. Agnes Jurati (Allison Pill), our third main cast member. Dr. Jurati tells him that the technology to construct flesh-and-blood androids was under development many years ago. She and Bruce Maddox were working tirelessly to make it happen when a ban on synthetic life-forms was implemented and their research was shut down.

The ban is the direct result of an attack on the Utopia Planitia Shipyard on Mars, carried out by rogue synthetics. Nobody knows why they did it, but they came from the Daystrom lab. It seems perhaps that this also led Starfleet to withdraw from its galactic presence, ending its aid to the refugees created by the destruction of Romulus. Picard, for his part, resigned his commission in protest.

In the closing moments of the episode, we learn a few key things. First, Bruce Maddox disappeared and nobody knows where he is. Second, even a single positron from Data's network could be used to create a new synthetic, which is presumably how Dahj was made. And third, these androids are created in pairs. This means there's another one.

Oh yeah, and Dahj is dead. The Romulan assassins who tried to get to her at the start carry out their mission in the end, spitting acid on her and blowing her up. It's notable, however, that the police did not find anyone else around Picard when they found him unconscious.

We end 'Remembrance' with the introduction of two more main characters: a Romulan named Narek (Harry Treadaway); and Dr. Soji Asha (also Isa Briones), Dahj's twin. They currently reside in a Romulan Reclamation Facility – in the middle of a freaking BORG CUBE. So there's that.

Like I said, I think this was all about easing the audience into a new reality for Jean-Luc Picard. We can acknowledge what's come before and lovingly reference it, but ultimately we have to move on. Jeff Russo's gorgeous and moving music helps the audience make this transition.

I don't know if I can really properly rate this episode. It's so very much a beginning that we don't even know why anything is happening the way it is. Still, I'm intrigued and excited beyond belief. I can't wait to see where this boldly goes.

Where We've Gone Before:

I figured it would be useful to track all the elements from previous Trek, as there are bound to be a lot of them.

-The episode opens with the song 'Blue Skies' by Bing Crosby, which is the song that Data sang at Riker and Troi's wedding in Star Trek: Nemesis, and also was used to close out that film. Bing Crosby was also the grandfather of TNG actress Denise Crosby, who played Tasha Yar.

-Picard and Data play poker in the opening, a reference to the many poker games the TNG crew played in that show. Notably, however, Picard never joined them until the final episode. Also notable is that Data is not the dealer, as he always was. Instead, Picard is the dealer.

-Picard's dog is called Number One, which was his nickname for Commander Riker in TNG.

-The symbol of the Ferengi Alliance can be seen in the cityscape of Greater Boston.

-Dahj's boyfriend is a Xahean. The Xaheans were introduced in the Short Trek 'Runaway', which featured the first appearance of Discovery character Po.

-The attack on Mars is first portrayed in the Short Trek 'Children of Mars'.

-We learned of the Hobus supernova, which destroyed Romulus, in 2009's Star Trek.

-In Picard's personal archive, you can see Klingon weapons the Bat'leth and D'k tahg; the 'Captain Picard Day' banner from the TNG episode 'The Pegasus'; and models of the U.S.S. Stargazer, the Enterprise-E, and the Captain's Yacht U.S.S. Cousteau.

-Data did have a daughter, an android he constructed in the episode 'The Offspring'. Her name was Lal, and Data absorbed her memories when her neural network overloaded. Dahj says that her father merged two species of flower together, and named the 'offspring' after her.

-The Daystrom Institute is named after Dr. Richard Daystrom from the TOS episode 'The Ultimate Computer'. This is our first visit to the Institute, despite many references, and we also find out that it is located in Okinawa, Japan.

-Dr. Bruce Maddox' only appearance was in the TNG episode 'The Measure of a Man'. Data continued to write letters to the character until at least the episode 'Data's Day'.

Pensees:

-I love the credits sequence, especially the music. It gave me chills both times I watched the episode.

-Picard now drinks decaf Earl Grey tea. That was a wonderful way to show how he's aged.

-Picard, ever the archaeologist, wrote many widely praised historical texts after resigning from Starfleet.

-Clearly, Dahj's mother knows that her daughters are androids. Note that we have heard about her father, but have not met him.

-When Dahj and Picard run from the approaching Romulans, it is very obvious that a stunt double for Patrick Stewart was used so he did not have to run.

-The necklace that everyone keeps noticing does not seem like a particularly unusual piece of jewelry to me. Maybe it's not the fashion in the 24th Century.

-It's a little disappointing to me that most of Data's memory dump into B4 was lost.

-I'm just going to mention here that Hanelle M. Culpepper is an excellent director.

Quotes:

Data: "Why are you stalling, Captain?"
Picard: "I don't want the game to end."

Zhaban: "Be the Captain they remember."

Picard: "I have been known to be persuasive."

Picard: "The Federation understood that there were millions of lives at stake."
Interviewer (Alias' Merrin Dungey, btw): "Romulan lives."
Picard: "No. Lives."

Picard: "There's no legacy as rich as honesty. Who said that, Number One?"
This is from Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, Act III, Scene 5.

Agnes: "I really wish you'd come here on my day off."

Hard to rate, but giving it the benefit of the doubt: 6 out of 6 false tells.

--
CoramDeo is confused about what deception to employ.

20 comments:

Jeanine said...

Absolutely loved it. Picard is old, but Picard is still Picard. So many stories and layers waiting to be told.

Jeanine said...

Oh, and: great review!!

Billie Doux said...

What Jeanine said. Picard is still Picard, and even with all the easter eggs, I bet someone new to Star Trek could easily follow this.

As a librarian, I particularly loved the holo-librarian called "Index." :)

sunbunny said...

I REALLY enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to seeing more. I like that it's not the typical Star Trek plot of like visiting planets and solving problems there. It seems more of a mystery/thriller plus (obviously) some sci-fi. It was a little difficult for me, a Star Trek newbie to watch, because I kept having to refer to wikipedia for things but I had some very kind people respond to my livetweet with information so I feel like I'm on top of things SO FAR...I wish they hadn't fridged Dahj I was all set to love her and suddenly poof she was gone. Clever mislead I guess?

I agree that the necklace wasn't unusual at all. Pretty though.

Juan said...

I loved it! Just the first scene had me in tears! My captain is finally back. And Data! God I miss this trek! It felt modern and yet it capture the feel of the Next Generation pertfectly. And Stewart shows again what a Master of acting he is. Its the same Picard of old but you can tell time has passed.

And I just saw a clip of Whoopi Goldberg’s program where Patrik Stewart officially invited her to be part of the second season. The band is getting back together! Thanks the Great Bird of the Galaxy for this!

Side easter egg: another thing that you can see in the Boston cityscape is a billboard with Kasidy Yates name, probably for her transportation bussiness. The Emissary’s widow seems to been doing all right. :)

Great review, thanks. Can't wait for more!

khickman said...

As usual, you summed up everything I felt about the episode! (I'm currently re-watching and catching up on Supernatural and reading your posts as I go). I agree regarding Picard's age, and also especially noticed the stunt double as they were going up the stairs. But hey, he's 80! I love that he's at the centre of this new show! I'll be honest...can't wait for the cameos, but even without my favorite (Riker) figuring prominently in this series, it looks soooooo good. The mysteries have been set up so well. Who created the twins? Is Data possibly alive? A borg CUBE?! Where are they in this timeline? Will Beverly make any appearances? And what is the history of the synthetics and why they did what they did? So much to wait for.... As an aside, I've always loved how the words "Utopia Planitia" sounded and rolled off the tongue. Such a beautiful name, in my opinion.

Kayne said...

I never got around to watching TNG, DS9 or VOY. Can I still watch this or will I understand nothing? I saw all movies and Discovery though :)

CoramDeo said...

khickman, thanks! Just to make sure credit is going where it's due, I'm not the person that writes the Supernatural reviews. That's our fearless leader Billie, who will be writing some reviews of this show for future episodes. I'm glad you enjoyed the episode!

CoramDeo said...

Kanye, I think you could easily understand a lot of what's going on so far if you've seen the TNG movies. I believe Doux Reviews also linked to an article from IGN on Twitter letting you know what to watch in preparation. If you find you're not understanding it, try that. I know my mother, who isn't a Trekkie and doesn't know much of the lore at all, was confused but definitely intrigued. I recommend you try it out.

Kayne said...

thanks! and the corollary question: think TNG is watchable in 2020 still? :)

CoramDeo said...

Kanye - I mean, the first two seasons are mostly bad, but once it finds its voice I think it's Star Trek in its purest form. I recommend a watch, especially if you want to get into more Trek, and in my opinion the very best of TNG will never become unwatchable.

CoramDeo said...

*Kayne. Autocorrect - what a brilliant invention.

Billie Doux said...

Kayne, what CoramDeo said. And several of us, including me, just finished reviewing Next Gen in its entirety. We felt it was worth the time. If you can get through the first two seasons, which aren't very good.

Lynda said...

I was never a star trek fan, of course as a kid id seen the odd TOS episode, and caught bits of TNG here and there. I always found Trek quite sterile, and prefer my sci fi a bit grittier (Firefly, Farscape). That said dragged to cinema by a friend who is a long time trek fan, i actually liked the reboot films with Chris Pine, and have enjoyed Netflix's Star Trek Discovery - it probably helps not to have a vested interest in how the time lines have been messed with. In these newer productions, characters seem to be able to be more flawed and have more human relationships.

So i decided to check out Picard, and whilst i didnt notice all the little references to the past (series and movies ive never watched) i had no problem following the plot.

First thing i noticed was how visually stunning the production was in 4K, one of the few things ive watched in 4K where you think to youself yep it is leveraging the best of the technology (I do love that prime dont charge extra for 4k unlike netflix).

And yes Patrick Stewart looked much older and felt tired but that also worked well with bringing us something new perpective wise.

I look forward to where this goes from here.

Henrik Bennetter said...

Well, I hadn't realized how much I've missed Stewcard. He is such a wonderful actor, and the character is so true to how he has always been.

What you said in the review, and in the comments, this is the new Trek I've been waiting for - where everything is allowed time and reverence.

I'm hooked.

TJ said...

Oh, how I have missed those BORG CUBES!!

Kayne said...

thanks everyone!

franni1 said...

I loved it too! Felt they hit just the right note, setting the scene, enough flashbacks to get your old memories woken up, and anticipating the next episode. Worth the Prime subscription ��

Anonymous said...

This greatly exceeded my expectations (which were high).

Let's hope they can keep doing it.

Corylea said...

I’ve been dutifully watching Discovery like a good little Trekkie, but I’ve only been lukewarm about it. But Picard has grabbed me from the start! It seems to have HEART in a way that Discovery does not, and it seems confidently bold, rather than self-consciously “edgy.”

Patrick Stewart is a great asset, of course, but I think the main difference is probably attributable to Michael Chabon, he of the Hugo and Pulitzer awards and long-time Trek fan. Great writing makes ALL the difference.